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Travel News

Cape Town making transition to more responsible tourism

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The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has unveiled “Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development” as the theme for this year’s World Tourism Day, which takes place on Septe

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has unveiled “Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development” as the theme for this year’s World Tourism Day, which takes place on September 27 annually.

Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Taleb Rifai, opened his World Tourism Day announcement message by saying: “Tourism is leading the way in some of the world’s most innovative sustainable energy initiatives. Energy-efficient upgrades to aircraft, the shift to renewable fuel for aviation and cruise liners, energy technology solutions in hotels, as well as countless other initiatives are placing tourism at the forefront of the clean energy transformation… these initiatives are crucial for sustainable development.”

Perhaps inhibited by economic constraints and logistical challenges, businesses and services in Cape Town are still making a gradual transition to more responsible tourism practice, but the benchmark and the guidelines are in place to escalate this journey, both in the Responsible Tourism Policy and Action Plan and in the City’s commitment to recycling, conserving energy, and transforming Cape Town into a highly sustainable and liveable city for all of its citizens.

Nils Flaatten, CEO of Wesgro, commented: “From a trade and investment perspective, renewable energy is one of the Western Cape’s biggest investment areas. The Western Cape Provincial Government would like to generate 10 percent of the province’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2014. We have serious motivation to get the Cape’s energy combination right, and we estimate that about 40 percent-50 percent of wind technology projects and 15 percent of PV solar power projects will come to the Western Cape. This commitment is creating a market for companies in the renewable-energy-resources sector, as well as those in other sectors making use of these technologies, offsetting their carbon footprint and putting the message out to potential suppliers and travelers who are interested in fair-trade and responsible living.”

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold, concluded: “Our World Design Capital 2014 status also means that we will have the chance to design new and improved ways of doing things that will create more responsible experiences for our visitors. Sustainable energy enterprises in tourism are known to create economic prospects and jobs, whether in tourism, energy, or other sectors. We are seeing an increase in commitment by the tourism industry to accelerate the transition to responsible and sustainable tourism practices and leapfrog conventional options in favor of more sustainable solutions. However, much still needs to be done to reach the United Nations goal of achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030 and to position tourism at the center of the clean energy economies of the future.”

A practical “online energy school” tool has been developed by the UNWTO to help hoteliers cut their carbon emissions and costs. Visit http://hotelenergysolutions.net/en/content/energy-school to attend the “online energy school.”